Women shaping policy: driving equality

July 11, 2024

Photo by August de Richelieu at Pexels

Plamedie Kabongo explores the challenges of female representation in government

Historically, women have been deprived from actively participating in politics and helping to establish political equality. However, women’s representation in politics has improved significantly since the late 20th century. Today, women can actively vote, hold parliamentary seats in nearly all countries, and occupy the highest political offices.

Even though this progress may seem positive, women’s political representation is still restricted and disproportionate compared to men’s. I grew up in a society where gender inequality is prevalent. My mum, sisters and I handle all the household duties, which reflects these inequalities. Furthermore, as a Black woman, I’m often denied opportunities that are readily available to my white male peers.

The Suffragette Movement of the early 1900s revolutionised the recognition of women in society. This pivotal movement not only empowered the involvement of women in political parties but also ensured their interests and concerns were heard, paving the way for landmark legislation like the Equal Pay Act 1970.

Despite the transformative influence of the Suffragettes, women continue to be underrepresented in political environments due to persistent stereotypes. Women often work for less money than men doing the same job, whilst also being expected to shoulder the majority of domestic duties. I find this discouraging as it reinforces the notion that society has been set up by men, who still dictate how it runs.

So, why does women’s political equality matter to me?

Increasing women’s presence in politics will improve responsiveness to their priorities

To put it simply, women are not a minority in the general population. However, according to UK Parliament report 2024, only 35% of the House of Commons is represented by women. Increasing the proportion of women in political institutions will improve responsiveness to women’s needs, guaranteeing diverse perspectives are considered and reflected in legislative decisions.

Greater female representation in politics can lead to more inclusive and equitable policy-making, especially in areas like healthcare, education and social welfare.  

It’s important to highlight the role of mentorship and support networks in politics. As a young woman myself, I see first-hand the importance of female role models in politics. Women leaders can inspire and mentor young women, encouraging them to pursue political careers and ensuring they have the resources and support needed to succeed.

How much progress has been made toward women’s political equality?

I believe that there is a long way to go in attaining gender equality in politics globally, despite its clear positive outcomes. UN Women reports that, under the current trajectory, it will take 130 years to achieve gender equality in the highest positions of power. I believe measures such as utilising social media platforms to increase visibility will help raise awareness of the necessary steps for progress.

We can amplify women’s voices in politics and demand fair media coverage. Together, we can drive real change towards equality and representation. Check out 50:50 Parliament campaign to actively advocate for gender balance in UK politics and make a difference in shaping our future.

Plamedie is studying A-Level Economics, Politics and Psychology at The Compton Sixth Form. In her spare time, she enjoys discussing political issues, reading and listening to audiobooks.

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